The Prince William Board of County Supervisors will vote tomorrow, April 23, on the FY 2014 tax rate. A resolution has already been drafted setting the rate at $1.181 per $100, which amounts to an average tax hike of 2.3 percent. There is much flowery language included in an attempt to provide a fig leaf here (“lowest tax bill”, “lowest tax burden”, “efficient and effective governance”, etc.), but the bottom line is people’s taxes are going up.
On top of that, the tax rate itself is among the HIGHEST in Northern Virginia (to make up for the home values which are well-below where they should be.) Since this resolution singled out Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun, let’s look at their current tax rates.
City of Alexandria – $0.998 per $100
Arlington County – $0.971 per $100
Fairfax County – $1.075 per $100
Loudoun County – $1.205 per $100
Prince William County – $1.209 per $100* (that does not include the $0.0744 for Fire and Rescue Levies nor the $0.0025 Gypsy Moth Levy, which if added together would bring PWC’s tax rate up to $1.2859 per $100 – the other listed localities do not hide their true property tax rates behind additional levies.)
Only Loudoun’s is even close (and that is before you add the fire, rescue, and gypsy moth levies.) But wait! The Loudoun BOCS is poised to cut the average property tax bill by 2% in FY 2014.
The board voted, 5 to 2, to direct county staff members to prepare a budget based on a real property tax rate of $1.20 per $100 of assessed value, a rate that would lower property tax bills by about 2 percent.
Well, what about Stafford County? They surely must have a higher property tax rate since their home values should be lower the Prince William County, right? Wrong.
Stafford County – $1.07 per $100.
Furthermore, as the Sheriff of Nottingham blog points this out about PWC:
A Flat Tax bill would have still increased the tax bill on 54% of homeowners because of appreciation of the value of their homes, so the hidden tax increases are embedded in even budget proposals that claim to hold tax bills at the same rate as the previous year.
Apparently that isn’t good enough for what will likely be a majority on the Board when the votes are counted tomorrow.
Well, there is another resolution that people should be aware of (and in full disclosure, I am the author of it.) Last month, the Prince William County Republican Committee adopted this at its convention:
A RESOLUTION RELATING TO
THE PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY FY 2014 BUDGET AND PROPERTY TAX RATE
WHEREAS, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors have voted to advertise a maximum real estate tax rate of $1.196 per $100 assessed for FY 2014 that would result in an average increase of 3.53% on homeowners; and
WHEREAS, general property taxes are growing exponentially faster than the county’s population; and
WHEREAS, our residents are struggling financially, cutting back on life’s extras as their paychecks shrink and gas prices soar; and
WHEREAS, county government needs to learn lessons from the family budget; and
WHEREAS, the county has managed to secure an average surplus of $31.4 million per year over past six fiscal years that is then spent each August during the so-called “carry over” process; and
WHEREAS, this averages out to nearly $75 for every one of the 419,006 men, women and children that the last U.S. Census determined are living in the county or $300 for the average family of four; and
WHEREAS, the county’s unmet critical needs could be taken care of by these annual surpluses; and
WHEREAS, many of these core services remain underfunded while we handout money to equestrian centers and museums, not to mention performing arts centers that are supposed to be self-sufficient, but for which county taxpayers now find themselves on the hook indefinitely;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Prince William County Republican Committee hereby calls upon the Board of County Supervisors to adopt a tax rate of $1.154 that will result in the average property tax remaining level from FY 2013 to FY 2014; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Prince William County Republican Committee calls upon the Board of County Supervisors to prioritize spending to fully fund the core functions of local government before it allocates any funding for other items; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Prince William County Republican Committee calls upon the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to institute “Accountability Budgeting” whereby clear measurable goals are set, progress is verified, and adjustments are made as necessary based upon what works and what does not work.
Keep in mind, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors has a 6-2 GOP majority on it. Well, that is if you count people who only seek the nomination of the Republican Party strictly out of political convenience even if they do not follow the party’s most basic tenets. (I believe the appropriate term here is “RINO.”)
County Chairman Corey Stewart, a candidate for the GOP nomination for Lt. Governor at next month’s Republican state convention, has fought a battle alongside freshman supervisor Pete Candland of Gainesville to pass a flat tax bill budget and protect tax payers. They’ve even managed to bring endangered incumbent Wally Covington around on this, even if it is out of political necessity and not deep-seated conviction.
I’m sure that the county board hiking taxes, even if he votes against it, is the last thing that Corey wants less than a month before the nominating convention.